As Uber president Jeff Jones quits, CEO Travis Kalanick ignores the toxic context

The bad news at Uber keeps on coming. This weekend, its President of Ridesharing and second-in-command, Jeff Jones, quit after only six months. This was an opportunity for Uber’s founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick, to take responsibility for problems that contributed to this departure. He failed. The context for the Jeff Jones departure First, some background. … Continued

Amazon’s unwisely lets the nerds apologize for its AWS outage

Much of the Internet was down for three hours last week. Because of an outage at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud-based service that powers Internet companies, hundreds of services like Medium, Slack, Quora, Reddit, and Kickstarter stopped working or worked poorly. Amazon’s Web geeks then bungled the response, focusing on jargon rather than clarity and empathy. … Continued

Why American Express should shout about its bad news, not hide it

A frequent flyer friend recently received an email regarding the American Express Platinum credit card. It includes some unpleasant news, but unless you’re the type that reads every word of every email, you’d probably miss it. That’s a mistake, because burying the bad news creates a backlash, now that everyone spreads news on social media. Here’s the … Continued

A passive-aggressive shareholder letter from GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt

Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, just published his company’s annual report and shareholder letter. It starts off with a veiled protest about the state of the world and the challenges it has created for GE’s leadership. The lede demonstrates clearly how people who want to accuse without naming names (Trump! Trump!) use passive constructions to generate doubt. … Continued

The Waymo-Uber lawsuit: how to call someone a thief

Waymo, the autonomous-car division of Google’s parent Alphabet, is suing Uber and its autonomous car division Otto. Waymo claims Otto stole its intellectual property. To win a battle like that, you need credible facts and an unemotional approach. Waymo does it pretty well. As I described earlier this week in another case against Uber (it’s been a … Continued

American Airlines makes class warfare easier with 9 clear boarding groups

American Airlines announced new names for the groups in its boarding process. This made it much clearer how, if you’re an ordinary non-preferred customer, you’re one step above steerage. The clarity is great: it further weaponizes envy even as it deflect attention from the privileges American is slowly squeezing out of flying. Here’s the email that I (and … Continued

The power of three for idea development

When I work with authors and entrepreneurs on their ideas, one-on-one sessions miss something. So do big brainstorms. The best number is three. One extra person makes a dramatic difference. I’ve done this “idea development” thing about ten times now. (For authors, I call it a “book whisperer” session.) I start with an author, or … Continued

Coca-Cola Refreshments achieves record low meaning ratio of 4%

If you have bad news, just come out with it. The more you bury it in self-serving bullshit, the more people will just think you’re a dishonest idiot. That’s what happened with today’s spectacularly opaque note from Coca-Cola Refreshments. Here’s the note that J.D. Lowry of Las Vegas found on the break room soda machine. … Continued